4. Web Beacons & Cookies

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Lesson Overview

This comprehensive course covers everything you will need to become a Manage power user - from deploying tags, data layers and event tracking to organizing your TMS strategy and properly QA and troubleshoot.

Learners should have a basic grasp of client-side web technologies.


Hello. Welcome back to the Ensighten Manage Training Series. This time we'll be discussing how requests are generated and used to send data to and from your vendors and what role cookies play in that process.

We'll cover this topic through its terminology. You've probably heard beacon or web beacon requests and hits before. These are commonly used interchangeably and all refer to some amount of data being sent to and from your web page. When the browser is told it needs a file from some external source, it generates a new request and sends it across the Internet to locate and retrieve that resource.

For our purposes, the process of requesting resources for the page has been hijacked for the sake of the data passage and that's how your vendor's data is getting to them. Your page is requesting a file, a pixel in many cases, and attaching extra data to the URL of that file using the query parameters. This data will be received by script processes on the server-side and parsed out into the dashboards and databases you're accustomed to being able to access them from.

The pixel is an invisible one-by-one sized image because it's not actually the important part. It's not intended to ever be visible to the end-user or affect your page in any way. It's important to know this terminology because almost all tagging exists to generate or assist in generating requests for one reason or another. Debug and QA both rely on familiarity with these terms as well.

Another important piece of knowledge in this same space is cookies. You've probably heard of cookies more than you ever wanted to when not in the context of delicious snacks, but in your browser, they're doing some important work. Cookies act as a storage medium for data that can span across multiple pages at the browser level. They're applied to an individual website or a subdomain section of that website and follow the user from page to page. It can last a set amount of time or even automatically delete themselves when the user closes their session depending on the configuration. Many vendor technologies will use cookies automatically to help with their functions and the TMS might set them for things like data definitions or consent choices.

I made sure to cover these because there's a common misunderstanding with cookies that becomes relevant to both tagging and privacy worlds. Cookies are only a data storage medium, they do not send or receive data on their own. The fact that a cookie exists with data does not mean that the data has been sent somewhere. Sending and receiving is for requests. Cookies and their data just happen to be one of the things that can be sent. This distinction can be the difference between your analytics platform actually having the data you want it to or not. Or perhaps more relevant to your company's wallet, it can be the reason you're getting hit with a privacy compliance violation and fined or moving along unnoticed.

Thanks for watching this quick video. Next up we're talking a broad topic on the technology utilized behind the curtains here at Ensighten.